WILLIAMSTOWN -- The Williams College Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program will present a workshop by Max Godfrey and Friends on Wednesday, Jan. 9, for an evening of work songs and food. The 7 p.m. workshop will be held in Goodrich Hall and is free and open to the public.
Godfrey will teach many songs traditionally sung by prisoners and field workers that have been rediscovered by farmers as tools for making their work more enjoyable. With simple, call-and-response structures, these songs can be learned quickly and require no vocal "skill" whatsoever. This sing-along will include a meal prepared by Godfrey and Friends, and singing will continue throughout the evening.
Over the past two years, Godfrey has been steadily digging through old field recordings of southern work songs and teaching them to people in fields and kitchens, on front porches and street corners across the Northeast and in his home state of Georgia. He draws upon the songs that African-Americans sang for decades on chain gangs and in farm fields throughout the 20th century South. As an apprentice on small farms, he has been exploring the ways in which traditional songs can be used as tools for strengthening the fabric of communities.